Cold and Windy, with a 100% Chance of Victory

I’ve been advised that dwindling attendance at Petco Park shouldn’t worry me. This, of course, only worries me more. It’s early, and this may all be in my head, but I don’t think so.

The ballpark was dead (heck, the entire Gaslamp was dead) on Tuesday night. It’s possible that 20,825 bought tickets, but there’s no way that many attended the game — not even close.

Granted, conditions were miserable by San Diego standards, but it would have been nice to see a little support for the home club in the season’s second game. This team won 89 games last year, and yet, everywhere I turn, people are telling me how crappy the Padres are. Sure, most of them are just regurgitating what someone else told them, but after a while, people start to believe this nonsense.

Attendance, Games 1 and 2 of Season
Year Game 1 Game 2 Diff
Statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.
Qualcomm Stadium
2000 60,021 19,035 -68.3
2001 61,277 50,149 -18.2
2002 59,103 43,861 -25.8
2003 61,707 50,605 -18.0
Petco Park
2004 41,400 41,625 +0.5
2005 43,538 39,791 -8.6
2006 43,767 23,721 -45.8
2007 44,267 40,504 -8.5
2008 44,965 20,825 -53.7

Anyway, I represented last night. That’s more than most San Diegans can claim.

As for the game, Chris Young‘s final line looks decent, but don’t be fooled. His inefficiency has been well documented, and on Tuesday, he added to the legend, throwing 112 pitches in 5 2/3 innings and going to three-ball counts on 8 of the 27 batters he faced. The Astros failed to capitalize on Young’s poor command, pushing across just one run in the sixth — on a bases-loaded walk issued by Joe Thatcher.

One thing Young did well — and the box score won’t tell you this — is control the running game. Sure, gazelle Michael Bourn swiped second in the fifth inning, but Young held him close and gave Josh Bard a fighting chance. Bard, perhaps accustomed to rushing his throws, bounced this one and Tadahito Iguchi couldn’t come up with the ball. Bourn was safe, but the play was much closer than I’d expected.

Other notes from Section 307:

  • Adrian Gonzalez crushed a ball to center in the fourth inning. For the second time in as many nights, it died along the warning track and came to rest in Bourn’s glove. (Bourn, for the record, looks like a terrific defender in center. He’s been getting great jumps, and even when he started the wrong way on a drive off the bat of Brian Giles in the seventh, Bourn managed to recover in time to make a nice grab near the wall.)
  • Speaking of center field, Scott Hairston got a better test with Young on the mound and he mostly passed. He and Giles didn’t communicate real well on a ball hit by Bourn to start the game, but after that, Hairston took charge. I count six putouts on my scorecard.
  • Hairston also smoked a two-run homer to left that accounted for all the Padres’ scoring, but we already know the guy can hit, so I don’t have much to say about that beyond “nice job.”
  • Some sloppy baserunning could have (but didn’t) cost the Padres. In the first inning, Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a fly ball to medium center. For some reason, with Gonzalez on deck, Iguchi felt the urge to test Bourn’s arm. Iguchi tagged up and was out by plenty at second. My scorecard reads “8-6 DP WTF?” Then in the eighth, Hairston got picked off rounding third base to end the inning after Paul McAnulty had beat out an infield single.
  • Speaking of Kouz, I know it’s only two games, but I’m loving his approach at the plate. He got into hitters’ counts every time up on Tuesday and hit the ball hard twice toward the middle of the diamond. People don’t realize how good he is, and as long as he plays in San Diego, that will continue to be true, which is fine as long as he continues to be that good. ;-)
  • Cla Meredith faced two batters and retired both on grounders to second. He also destroyed one of Carlos Lee’s bats in the process. I think Lee is still trying to figure out how that pitch got in on him so quickly.
  • Trevor Hoffman clearly has nothing left in the tank. Ask Lance Berkman, who waved at two changeups in the dirt to end the contest. You may be familiar with Berkman’s work as one of the planet’s best hitters. And the hit Trevor allowed? A slow roller wide of the bag at first that Hunter Pence legged out for a single. It was vicious.

Rock on…

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91 Responses »

  1. 45 – I think you’re thinking of Charles Steinberg. He’s with the Dodgers now:,1,6156940.column

    …and the Dodgers generated a *lot* of buzz with their Opening Day ceremony.

  2. 35: I think the Padres are especially well positioned to make a run given the number of risky, high reward types on the team.

  3. What have the last few years attendance figures been for non-Clemens, weekday Astro games? If that average is something in the low 20K’s, then a chunk of that drop can be attributed to the opponent.

    Having said that, because of the economy, the general perception that the team is stagnating – regardless whether that perception in correct or not – and the lack of any sort of buzz in the town about the Pads in general, I won’t be suprised at all if season attendance drops by more than 10% or 15%.

  4. OT: Bill James did a massive Q&A with the NYT’s Freakonomics blog. Some enjoyable stuff in here:

  5. 36: The weather definitely makes a substantial difference. Just put yourself in the perspective of a casual fan. I’m probably a pretty casual Aztecs baseball fan. I follow the team’s standings, I know about a handful of the better players on the team, and I go to a few games each season. Since I even go to SDSU, I get free tickets. But on more than one occasion, I have not made the five minute walk from my apartment to Tony Gwynn Stadium because it’s been cold. From a casual fan’s perspective, it’s just not worth the effort when the reward isn’t too great. Lots and lots of people look at the Padres this way, not with the same glasses as those who comment on this blog.

  6. BTW, did anyone see that AG bomb in last night’s game? He really hit it well and Petco just swallowed it right up. Routine fly ball.

    My gawd, that has to be frustrating to hitters. Its frustrating to me as a fan.

    Maybe they should be the porch cover all of right field. They should also block off the wind from the south the blows across left field.

    They need to do something, good hitters are not gonna want to come here if it stays like this.

  7. 50.

    Yes, un-informed fans are pretty much the most annoying thing outside of maybe un-informed sports talk show hosts (Lee HACKsaw Hamilton I’m looking in your direction) but being informed doesn’t mean that you are going to go buy a ticket. Why would someone (casual fan or un-informed fan) go out and spend good money to go to a game when informed guy (you and virtually every sportscaster and website baseball guy) think they are destined for 3rd place?

    Yes things can change and the Padres could win the West the National league and even the World Series but I suppose if you look at it that way you would only have to assume that the interest in the Padres and fan attendance could change also.

  8. 55.

    Yes, but if you and a buddy or family has plans to head downtown and go to a game (it’s usually an event and not routine like walking from and apartment to the park where you have a free ticket) you usually have plans ahead of time and you probably have tickets you paid for in advance. Short of rain or snow you are not going to cancel plans or give up tickets that are paid for because it’s 50 degrees outside.

  9. #56 But good pitchers will want to play here.

    #40 Germano is a stop gap option and not a bad one at that and stats show that he is every bit as good as someone like the #2 starter for the Reds (Kyle Lohse).

    Pads pitching *Loaded* ? Maybe a bit of an overestimate and poor choice of a descriptive adjective. I suppose you are correct in the sense that there is room for improvement. Though I must say, in watching baseball for 30 years, I have not seen many bullpens this good and Peavy and Young are an awfully good 1-2 punch —Maddux & Wolf would be #1 or #2 in the rotations of the also rans…..

  10. 58: Good point, but I still think that the weather will hurt walkup attendance, as another post previously noted.

  11. So we can’t count them as “loaded” because of the #5 starter who may only be part of the rotation for 2 months?

    What kind of an argument is that?

  12. #57: I actually have the Padres finishing second in a very tough division:

    Also, the experts are often wrong. How many folks had the Rockies going to the World Series last year?

    Not directed at you, KRS1, but trying to convince people in our own town that the team doesn’t suck (using actual logic, no less) is really starting to wear on me. If nobody else gives a sh*t, then why should I?

    Wow, it took me a whole two games into the season to get disgusted with the fans. That must be a record. ;-)

  13. 59: Last year Germano had a 91 ERA+. The Padres thought the league was figuring him out and pulled him from the rotation; we’ll never know if they were right or if he was just going through a rough patch. Lohse’s better than that, not always by much, but he’s had seasons over 100. Germano could turn into what Lohse is, for sure. We can’t be remotely sure he’s there yet.

    The big problem is depth. Wolf hasn’t thrown 200 innings since 2003. He’s averaged under 100 the last 4 years. The next time CY throws 180 will be his first. It’s what has hurt us since Petco opened, the lack of league-average results when a starter goes down. It even hurt us in 2006, with Park and Thompson both in the 80s ERA+-wise, so much that we traded our most valuable prospect for a month of David Wells.

    It’s a pretty good staff, but it’s pretty brittle, too.

  14. 62.

    I don’t think most people in our own town think the Padres necessarily suck. I just don’t think a team that doesn’t project to make the playoffs generates a whole lot of interest or excitement to people that need incentives to come to a game.

    Geoff, I’m curious how big a fan you were of the Chargers before Bobby Ross. You have stated (and you were not alone) that you lost interest in the team after they fired him. I assume either you really liked Bobby Ross or you lost interest because the Chargers went from a super bowl team to the worst team in the league after Ross. The Chargers over the past few years under a totally different front office and philosophy have become a great team and legitamate super bowl team. They have stars all over the place. Have your thoughts on them changed? You have also said you still like to see them do well but I have not seen you say anything about getting out to games or anything.

    I think a lot of fans might be in the same boat with the Padres. I’m always surprised by the number of people who cite the 98 World Series and stadium vote and then the following fire sale. Or even the early 90′s fire sale. A lot of people were turned off to the Padres because of them. When Petco opened up (fairly or unfairly is a whole different debate) a lot of other people expected some bigger names and results than what they have got. I think it is going to take more offense (yes the park limits this I know you don’t need to explain it to me again Schlom) and a playoff series win or 2 to get a lot of those fans back.

    I am not one of those fans. I love the Padres and I love our pitching being able to win us close games. I would also love if our offense was good enough to win us 10-9 games. I would prefer if we won every game 10-0 but not even the Yankees or Red-Sox can get that done. I am just saying what I think to be at least part of the case.

  15. Sure let’s act like Prior and Hensley don’t exist, it makes for an easier argument.

    I never said the starting staff didn’t have an area for improvement(out of curiosity wouldn’t a 10% improvement from Germano in his 2nd full year be in the realm of possibility?) but whose pitching staff would you rather have?

    I don’t think people realize how much of an improvement Wolf is compared to what they had last year. In 07 they struggled in the back 2 spots, between Wolf and Prior they should get 200+ IP at a much better then league average rate.

  16. I’m not sure that the overall fan support is actually down. If it was, how would they have the best Opening Day crowd ever on Monday? I think that about 20,000 fans is about all we can expect on a cold weeknight in April against a boring and bad opponent.

    I’m not even sure if it matters much anyway. Even if every game was a sellout, would Moores spend more money on the team? Most likely not. The real limiting factor to the Padres long-term success isn’t going to be the attendance but Moores wanting to limit spending (whether on the major league team and especially on the draft).

  17. I can’t afford to go more than once a week. I’m dang thanful that I got a great job and can afford to do that.

    If I heard the pregame Monday correctly (not 100% sure I did) it was stated that Beer was $9.00 each and a Hot Dog was $5.00. If my wife and I go and have a beer and a hot dog, I dropped $28.00 plus tickets. That would be over $100.00 per game. OUCH!!!!

    Give me Channel 704 Padres in HDTV!!!!!

  18. You know there are a ton of places to eat downtown…..Tilted Kilt $3.50 a beer and you get a help a local restaurant owner

  19. #48: I definitely miss the old days… Keep the Faith in ’96 seemed to get everybody behind our boys… (I could be mistaken… I was only 11 at the time… but that season was magical.)

  20. KRS1,

    I think you overestimate the effect that scoring runs will have on attendance. Take a look at this:

    After the novelty wore off, you can see how the attendance really dropped despite the Rockies still scoring runs (they’ve been first in runs at home every season since 2000, sometimes having 20% more then the 2nd place team). To put it simply, attendance follows winning.

  21. The Padres have pretty much spent every penny of revenue they have brought in since Petco. You may not like how they choose to allocate it, but they spend it. At least one Petco year, they have even done an ownership draw to spend more than they brought in.

    So, if they did sell out every day, which no team besides the Red Sox and Cubs do, it stands to reason that they would be spending more because they are bringing in more. I wouldn’t consider that pipe dream much of a panacea – it probably would only mean about $10-15 million more in player payroll under the most ideal circumstances.

    This nonsense about limiting spending is really tired, unless by limiting spending you mean the rational business practice of only spending around what you bring in. God forbid they spent less and took an operating profit some years like many successful businesses do, but they do not.

  22. #62: Good question. I followed the Chargers pretty closely from about the time Dan Fouts took over as QB through the Ross era. I became disenfranchised with the ownership group after the firing of Ross and then began focusing almost all of my energy on baseball, which has always been a bigger passion for me.

    Somewhere along the line, I kind of lost interest in football. As a matter of civic pride, I’m happy to see the Chargers do well because it helps cast our city in a positive light. But beyond that, I just don’t really care about the sport anymore.

    I don’t go to games, but I rarely even watch them on TV. (Incidentally, Sunday afternoon when the Chargers are at home is a fantastic time to hit the gym.) There isn’t really anything the organization can do to bring me back except maybe switch to baseball. ;-)

  23. 71:

    Of course they limit spending, don’t insult our intelligence by saying that they don’t. Granted, it’s easy to talk about spending money since it’s not our money but the simple fact is that the Padres choose to limit spending. Would signing Kyle Lohse improve the club? Maybe not but the percentages lean in that direction. Obviously the potential for a few game improvement wasn’t worth the $4m (or possibly less) that it would have cost to sign him. I guess we’ll find out at the end of the season whether this is the right call. Same thing with the decision to take Nick Schmidt when a more expensive, higher rated pitcher was on the board (as well as the failure to sign players taken in the 3rd and 10th rounds). Again, we’ll have to wait awhile to see if these are the right moves.

    We have absolutely no idea what the team by team revenues are. Almost every owner claims they are losing money (which probably isn’t true since new owners keep buying teams). Moores might be making $20m plus each season from the Padres, who the heck knows? There’s probably a reason they don’t open their books and let an independent person look at them. So your statement of “spending only what you take in” really has no bearing on this situation.

  24. I don’t think people buy baseball teams to make money… least I’ve never heard of anyone buying 1 as an investment… an ego trip? Hell yes

  25. If you want your intelligence insulted, read the Forbes reports. Then you will see how far off your arguments are. The reports show pretty much what the Padres make and what they spend, and it pretty much evens out. If you know how to read them properly, you would also know that on average the Padres take operating losses, even at Petco. They just have been smaller compared to those at the Q.

    You can cast doubt on the Forbes reports like MLB does, but if MLB is doubting them, I’ll put my trust in them until proven otherwise. It is the best we can do for a non-publically traded company and you really have no rational basis, at least none that you have presented so far, to argue that the Padres aren’t spending what they bring in or are limiting spending by anything other than sound business principles.

    You would have to be an idiot to think that Moores makes $20 million in any year on the team, other than potentially by yearly paper appreciation of the value of his franchise which is not recognized gain and does nothing for the yearly operating budget. There is no evidence that they have operated like the Royals did under David Glass.

    If they spend (imo waste) money on a Kyle Lohse type once they have already reached a budgeted player payroll, then given that they spend what they bring in they need to spend less in other areas to make things balance. Maybe that means less money towards the draft; maybe it means less money in the farm system generally; maybe it means more minimum salary major league players instead of a Tony Clark or Mark Prior or Jim Edmonds or Randy Wolf.

    Holding the line on draft bonuses means more money for other things, like major league player payroll. I would prefer they went more the reverse, but that is an allocation decision, not any evidence of limiting spending below their revenues.

  26. Padres vs. Royals in the WS. Woohoo!

  27. 32: Our pitching is nowhere near as good as you think. Much of the quality you see is in fact a park illusion. There’s extreme problems at the back end of the rotation. Additionally, our number 2 starter has never thrown 200 innings, our #3 starter and closer are rapidly approaching the end of their careers, our setup man stands a good chance of having his arm fall off before the allstar break, and the rest of the relief corps is fairly nondescript.

  28. Geoff, Didi, and I are going to the game tomorrow. I have one more ticket. First person to e-mail me ( gets the ticket.

    We’ll be meeting up at Lou & Mickeys around 11:15 tomorrow.

  29. I would say that the Pads have built some pretty good depth as far as pitching. Isn’t nice that the Pads don’t have to hurry or rush a promising young pitcher like LeBlanc ? Heck, on many MLB staffs LeBlanc is an easy choice to be a 5th starter.

    The Pittsburgh Pirates may be done being really bad –they could even be one good relief pitcher away from being a 85 win season team.

  30. Add to post 78: our seats are in section 114, field level.

  31. 79: We’ll agree to disagree. I sure hope you turn out to be right this time!

  32. Tim Redding is spinning a 1 hitter in the 7th at Philly. ????

  33. Matt Chico Tim Redding, O. Pérez (#1 starter !) , Jason Bergmann and Joel Hanrahan.

    How does this rotation not equal a 100 loss season ?

  34. 72.


    So the gym on Sunday afternoons during football season huh? Well the NBC 7/39 camera’s did not to justice to your physique ;)




    Once again you mis-represent what I have said and bringing up the Rockies is basically useless. The Rockies early attendance was skewed by what you called yourself “novelty”! Baseball was brought to a region of the country that it didn’t exist in previously. The Rockies were also what appeared to be the polar opposite version of the Padres. They were in a hitters park and could score with the best of them but their pitching suffered and cost them ball games.

    I don’t want or think offense is the only way to win or bring droves of people to the stadium. I think we have probably the best overall pitching in the league and if we could add offense (which is our weak spot) then we could beat anyone in a playoff series. My theory is pretty simple… Pitch good + hit good = win more games + win in playoffs = get more fans to come out on tuesday nights (or any night) = make more money and cause ducksnorts nerds to argue about Khalil Greene or something else none of them agree on. :)

  35. #84: we can all argue about Barrett and Huber in the lineup if you want…

    Giles RF
    Iguchi 2B
    Kouz 3B
    Gonzalez 1B
    Hairston CF
    Greene SS
    Barrett C
    Huber LF
    Maddux P;_ylt=AifxFjY9nTyA0Yb5LxvMs0ipu7YF?gid=280402125

  36. lineup according to Yahoo

    Giles RF
    Iguchi 2B
    Kouz 3B
    Gonzalez 1B
    Hairston CF
    Greene SS
    Barrett C
    Huber LF
    Maddux P

    (I tried to post the link, but whatever.)

  37. Out of this group of people complaining about ticket and concessions prices, I figured someone would be interested in a frre ticket… but I guess not.

  38. KRS1,

    Sorry, I misinterpreted what you said. Basically we are saying the same thing, the more games you win the higher your attendance will (of course). I thought you were saying the more runs the Padres score, the more fan interest there would be.

    The Forbes reports are just guesses on what the teams spend and make, they don’t really have any idea. Obviously, team owners make money by owning a team, why else would they purchase them for hundreds of millions of dollars? Until a baseball owner opens the books and shows the exact finances I’m not going to believe anything they say. Since it’s in their best interests to claim they are losing money why wouldn’t they?

    If you don’t think that Kyle Lohse is better then Justin Germano then I don’t know what to say. You could certainly argue that he’s just not worth the extra $3.5m or so just like you can say that Rick Porcello isn’t worth the extra $6m then Nick Schmidt. We can’t tell at the moment but we’ll find out in a few years (we already know that Moores’ attempt to go cheap in 2004 cost them at least $10m probably even more).

  39. Re 51…yup, that is him. Dude was good for us, for Baltimore, for Boston, and now, unfortunately for the Dodgers.

  40. 87.

    Oh i’m interested it’s just that my job isn’t very interested in me going to the game.


    It’s cool. More wins = more fans. I totally agree.

  41. #84: Hah! I hide it well. ;-)